the young & hip
Sun Valley Resort's superpipe at Dollar Mountain tests even the most extreme skiers and snowboarders.
Photo courtesy of Sun Valley Resort
Taking it all in, without
breaking the bank
Christine Colbert, for Sun Valley Guide
Being young in a ski resort town can be challenging, especially if you're income-challenged, or ensnared by a city-is-always-best narrative. What separates Sun Valley, or more specifically, Ketchum, from comparable ski towns is the accessibility of affordable dining and multiple activities that offer even the most wanting wallet of the under-30s things to do. Here, traditional small-town bars flourish, coupled with friendly locals and good eats. In Ketchum, all the best spots are centrally located downtown—an additional plus in that it puts everything you need within walking distance.
Gliding and Riding
So, you've come here to ski, right? First, you need some direction, a little advice as to where to "shred the gnar." There's no shortage on Bald Mountain, which boasts one of the most consistent fall lines in the country. With more than 3,000 feet of vertical, Baldy is guaranteed to give you a fast ride. On the Warm Springs side, you can head up the 11-minute Challenger quad and head straight down the lift line for an intense workout.
"That'll get you in shape better than anything I know of," says local pro skier Cody Barnhill.
The south-facing slopes are also a go-to spot after the resort has gotten a big dump, as well as the Rock Garden and Wolverton runs.
On Dollar Mountain, a vast terrain park and superpipe are popular with skiers and snowboarders.
Food Up High and Down Low
Up on the mountain and looking for a meal? The Lookout, at the top of Bald Mountain, is perfect for mid-day eats. Get your lunch here and take a run immediately after, as opposed to getting sleepy on the lift while you digest. It serves affordable tacos and fresh burritos, as well as barbecue and beers outside in the spring. If you head up in the afternoon, you might catch the 3:30 after-work club hanging around until the ski patrol kicks them out. The Lookout is also a warming hut and has lockers inside in case you need to stash some of your layers.
Maybe you've packed it in, headed back down the mountain, and need sustenance in town—economical, filling nourishment. Two local favorites are La Cabanita and Wrap City—even during off seasons these lunch spots are busy. La Cabanita offers a traditional Mexican menu with homemade flair. Wrap City serves healthy salads and wraps—the Chinese chicken salad wrap is a house favorite. Subshack serves savory sandwiches on homemade bread.
For tasty, affordable Asian food, try Thai Cuisine and Sushi Bar on Sixth Street. Sushi on Second offers excellent sushi in a more refined setting.
Going out on the town
So, if you've decided to spend all day on the mountain, some après-ski entertainment is in order. If cocktails, high ceilings and cushy chairs are your thing, head over to the River Run Lodge, where you'll find plenty of live music. Looking for something more casual? Apple's, at the Warm Springs base of the mountain, offers a lively après-ski scene that is popular with locals.
Looking for grub to accompany your après-ski beer? One word: Grumpy's—a tiny tucked-away cabin on Warm Springs Road—just look for the sign that says "Sorry, We're Open." Here, regulars have enjoyed burgers and beers with friends or, sometimes, a few high-rollers, including Bruce Springsteen and Tom Hanks. Alternatively, Lefty's is another great location for beer and bar fare. It features burgers, subs and salads, and plenty of TVs tuned to sports channels. Wiseguy Pizza Pie offers hand-tossed pizzas whole or by the slice. It is located near the Cellar Pub, where you can get going on a night out.
In Ketchum, you won't have to worry about waiting for 20 minutes to get an overpriced cocktail. Ketchum was originally a mining town, and that flavor is still a big influence. Real small-town bars still exist here. The Cellar Pub has Guinness on tap and buffalo burgers. The next stop can be Whiskey Jacques', which features two full bars, giant big screen TVs, arcade games and a stage with live music. Whiskey Jacques'—once a favorite haunt of writer Ernest Hemingway—will offer live music and DJs throughout the winter season.
Across from Whiskey's is The Casino, a favorite late-night spot that was once—believe it or not—a casino. With plenty of pool tables, a jukebox and room at the bar, the Casino stays busy into the early morning.
Where to stay
A reasonably priced place to catch up on some sleep is the Best Western Tyrolean Lodge, located near the base of Bald Mountain. It is only a five-minute walk away from pretty much everything. It offers a hot tub, pool, steam room and an exercise facility, as well as a free shuttle service to the ski lifts.
The Tamarack Lodge and the Lift Tower Lodge are good choices for people looking for affordable hotel rooms right in town.
In Hailey, try the AmericInn or Wood River Inn.
Ready for a new day
Morning comes and you are ready for another day on the mountain. But first you need a cup of Joe to get your body started. Java on Fourth and the Coffee Grinder offer a wide choice of signature coffee drinks and food options. Newcomers to Java should sample the famous Bowl of Soul—organic coffee spiced with Mexican chocolate. The Coffee Grinder has been locally owned and operated for more than 20 years. It offers a chocolate orange mocha that always stirs a buzz.
For those who want to mix it up from day to day, Starbucks is located in the heart of town, in the same building as the visitor center, where people can get the 411 on just about anything. One block to the east is the city's newest coffee shop, Velocio.